break down (=give up?)


Senior Member
Hello, I'm watching the TV serial Breaking Bad and I've come across this dialogue. It's about a man talking about he's buying a weelchair. This man had an accident which prevent him from walking without assistance, but he doesn't feel like using a wheelchair until now. He says:

- I caved.
- Caved?
- I broke down. I ordered me a wheelchair.

I'm just wondering about the real meaning of "break down" here. The American Heritage Dictionary states:

a. To become or cause to become distressed or upset.
b. To have a physical or mental collapse.
3. To give up resistance; give way: prejudices that break down slowly.

I think maybe he uses "break down" with the meaning #3 here, i.e., give up. Since he previously says "cave", which is almost the same thing.
Any thoughts on this? Thanks!!
  • ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Yes, but, for me, not necessariy 'slowly. The 'caving'/breaking down' may come after a period of resistance, but it happens at a given moment: "After holding out (for a long time), I finally caved."
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